Easter Cakes


        2 cups smeed (semolina)
        1 cup boiling water
        1 1/2 cups samneh (or other shortening)
        1 tsp. ma'ez zahr (orange blossom essence)
        1 tsp. rose water
        3/4 cup fine sugar
        1 1/4 cup crushed walnuts
These traditional rich Easter cookies are molded in the bowls of decoratively carved wooden spoons before baking. The molded cookie dough is arranged on large baking sheets and carried to the commercial bakery. Good ma'amoul can be bought at the larger pastry shops at Eastertime.

Make dough of smeed, samneh and boiling water. Knead well together. Cover tightly and leave overnight. On the second day knead again thoroughly and form into small balls. Hollow out their centers. Fill the hollow with mixture of sugar, nuts and flavorings. Press the dough back over the filling. Press each cookie onto a buttered baking pan and flatten and decorate with the tines of a fork. Or, shape the dough in the carved molds made in Lebanon especially for this purpose. Bake in moderate oven until lightly browned. Dust liberally with powdered sugar while hot.

(From Food from the Arab World Marie Karam Khayat and Margaret Clark Keatinge, Khayat's, Beirut 1959)